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Rsca Scale

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Resiliency Scales for Children and Adolescents
A critical review
Katie Waghorn
West Virginia University
March 14, 2014

Author’s Note
This paper was prepared for COUN 505 taught by Dr. Tina Walsh
Resilience is a complex construct with many definitions. Most frequently, resilience can be defined as one’s ability to “bounce back” from an adverse situation. It is “interactive and contextual” (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013, pg.19). However, some believe resiliency is a personality trait. There is some aversion to the use of resiliency, however, as it gives the impression that some are better than others. Resilience is applicable to both adults and children. This paper will focus on the childhood aspect of resilience.
Over the years, it has been a topic of interest among researchers as to how some children manage to overcome adversity and thrive, while others suffer psychological and physical distress. As a result, much of the early research carried out on resilience looked at “three sets of factors implicated in the development of resilience: (1) attributes of the children themselves, (2) aspects of their families, and (3) characteristics of their wider social environments” (Vanderbilt-Adriance & Shaw, 2008, pg. 31). Recently, research has shifted from identifying key characteristics of resilient children to understanding how these factors affect a child’s ability to handle adversity. Despite extensive research on the subject, there is still controversy over how to apply these findings for practical use. This can be contributed to the fact that past research used multiple tests across different populations. According to Prince-Embury & Saklofske (2013), “the research-based tools employed in previous research have often been impractical for widespread use in the schools and communities because they are too labor intensive, expensive, or focused on presence or absence of psychiatric symptoms” (pg.13). As a result, there is a difficulty amongst researchers to adequately measure resilience and assess the need for preventive techniques. As an answer to the issue of assessment tools being more “field-friendly,” The Resiliency Scales for Children and Adolescents (RSCA) is an assessment tool developed especially for assessing the personal resilience/resiliency in children (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013, pg.19).
As previously stated, the topic of resilience has been one of interest among many researchers. The issue with resiliency is that no one has been able to completely come to a conclusion on a definition. However, most agree that a child must have been exposed to high levels of adversity and had a positive outcome, or adaptive functioning. Otherwise, a child would not be considered resilient (Vanderbilt-Adriance &Shaw, 2008, pg.31). The other issue with assessing resilience is that researchers are unsure whether to focus on resilience, resiliency, or how they interact (Prince- Embury & Saklofske, 2013). Prince-Embury & Saklofske (2013) believes that focusing on personal experience fixes the issues at hand because experience decides how a child’s protective factors affect a positive outcome (pg, 20). Therefore, “the RSCA provides an assessment of three previously identified attributes of personal resiliency and is based on personal experience reflective of three core developmental systems: Sense of Mastery, Sense of Relatedness, and Emotional Reactivity and the relationship of these factors to one another “ (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013, pg. 20). Sense of Mastery is a core attribute of personal strength and is associated with self-efficacy, optimism and adaptability. The basic theory behind this attribute is that “a sense of competence, mastery, or efficacy is driven by an innate curiosity, which is intrinsically rewarding and the source of problem-solving skills” (Prince-Embury, 2010, pg, 293). Therefore, having a sense of control may allow a child to have a better attitude, or optimism about events in their lives. What’s more, the ability to solve problems allows a child to have better outcomes with cause and affect situations, or adaptability. According to Prince-Embury & Saklofske (2013), “positive expectations about their future predicted lower anxiety, higher school achievements and better classroom behavior control (pg.20). Thus, the use of self-efficacy in the RSCA shows an aspect of a child’s underlying resilience. A sense of belonging, is a key aspect of human development. A core belief in developmental psychology is that having a relationship with one, if not both parents, is essential for healthy development. A sense of Relatedness is important to resilience because “one’s sense of relatedness is based on a number of developmental constructs, including trust, access to support, comfort with others, and tolerance” (Prince-Embury, 2010, pg. 293). According to Erikson’s theory on psychosocial development, trust is the building block on which a person’s social development is built. Without trust, a person cannot access support, comfort or tolerance. Support is essential because it allows for children to have comfort when needed. Therefore, having a healthy, supportive relationship with parents, family, or friends is essential to resilience. Emotional Reactivity is labeled as the “vulnerability, arousability, or threshold of tolerance prior to the occurrence of adverse events or circumstances (Prince-Embury, 2010, pg.293). Additionally, Emotional Reactivity is defined as “the speed and intensity of a child’s negative emotional response” (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013, pg.21). One’s ability to handle emotions in the face of adversity is a key component of a resilient individual. However, those who have strong Emotional Reactivity, but poor behavioral control are at risk for poor psychological adjustment. Therefore, it is important to see how quickly a child can recover from high risk situation. This allows insight into how well a person can redirect their emotions when phased with adversity. Emotional reactivity is used in the RSCA to tap into a child’s “self-perceived relative sensitivity or intensity of reaction, recovery or length of time it takes for the child to recover and the degree to which the emotions interferes with functioning” (Prince-Embury, 2010, pg. 22).
The RSCA The Resiliency Scales for Children and Adolescents was created by Sandra Prince-Embury in 2005. Sandra Prince-Embury is a Clinical Psychologist with over 30 years of experience. She currently runs the Resiliency Institute of Allenhurst, LLC. She created the scales as a way to identify key aspects of personal resiliency based off of the self-report of a child’s own experience. The self-report assessment tool uses three scales to collect data from a normative sample of children aged 9 to 18. The scales are the Sense of Mastery Scale, the Sense of Relatedness Scale and Emotional Reactivity Scale. Results are scored using a Personal Resilience Profile, which is meant to display strengths and weaknesses. Also, two other indexes are used, the Resource Index and the Vulnerability Index. These scores are meant to summarize scores “that quantify the child’s relative strength and vulnerability for use in preventive screening” (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013, pg.22). Additionally, there are ten subscales that are used for a more detailed look at certain strengths and weaknesses. All scores are standardized for age, race, gender and parent education level. The Sense of Mastery scale consists of twenty items that assess the participant’s optimism, self-efficacy and adaptability. Adaptability is defined as “being personally receptive to criticism and learning from one’s mistakes” (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013, pg. 22). It is written at a third grade reading level, so that it is easily understood by participants. Questions consist of statements like, “If I try hard, it makes a difference,” or “I can let others help me when I need to” (Prince-Embury, 2007). Statements are answered using an ordinal scale for each statement: 0 being never, to 4, almost always. Internal consistency for this scale is good with alphas ≥.85 and a test-retest reliability coefficients ≥.70 for ages 9 -18 (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013). A higher score is believed to suggest that the participant conveys a good sense of optimism in their lives and therefore, a higher sense of personal resiliency. The Sense of Relatedness scale consists of twenty-four items that are used to assess the participant’s relative closeness, trust, support and tolerance of differences with others. This scale is also written at a third grade reading level and is frequency based. Questions consisted of statements such as, “I can make up with friends after a fight,” or “There are people who love and care about me” (Prince-Embury, 2007). Each statement is answered on an ordinal scale: 0 being never, to 4, being almost always. Internal consistency for this scale is good with alphas ≥.85 and a test-retest reliability coefficients ≥.70 for ages 9 -18 (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013). .A higher score suggests that the participant has a good sense of belonging and as a result, a higher sense of resiliency. The Emotional Reactivity Scale consists of twenty items that are used to evaluate how a person handles their emotions in the face of adversity, their level of impairment and how they function. It is written on a third grade reading level and consists of three related content areas: the Sensitivity subscale assesses the child’s threshold for emotional reaction and the intensity of the reaction, the Recovery subscale describes the length of time required for recovering from emotional upset, and the Impairment subscale describes the child’s experience of disrupted functioning while upset (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013, pg.21).
Questions consist of statements like, “When I am upset, I do things I feel bad about later on,” or “When I get upset, I can stay upset for several days” (Prince-Embury, 2007). Responses were answered on an ordinal scale: 0 being never, to 4, being almost always. Internal consistency for this scale is good with alphas ≥.85 and a test-retest reliability coefficients ≥.70 for ages 9 -18 (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013). The scores for this scale are opposite to the Mastery and Relatedness scale. For this scale, a high score means a person is more susceptible to negative emotion and a low score means they are less likely to be affected. Therefore, a person with high personal resiliency would score lower on this test. For the RSCA, scores from the three scales are combined into sets of composite scores: the Resource Index and Vulnerability Index. Factors involving resilience are often divided into the protective, or at risk category. Protective factors are those that help a person to overcome misfortune, while a risk factor increases, or aids the negativity placed on an individual. Sense of Mastery and Sense of Relatedness are considered to be greatly associated with positive factors (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013). As a result, the Resource Index weighs both the Sense of Mastery and Relatedness scale equally to average a child’s personal strengths. Scoring below-average on this index would suggest the participant needed guidance in increasing their personal strengths. Since Resiliency theory notes a child with low resources as having less resilience, this index score is consistent with the theory that a child’s resilience is affected by how they perceive their resources. For the Vulnerability Index, the standardized difference between the Emotional Reactivity T-score and Resource Index score are assessed. The Vulnerability Index “estimates the discrepancy between an individuals’ personal risk and perceived available personal resources” (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013, pg. 23). This score is meant to assess whether, or not a person’s resources are sufficient enough to help negate the adversity experienced. A high score on the Vulnerability Index would suggest that a participant is vulnerable due to a low level of personal resources. This Index score can also be considered valid because it is consistent with the theories that define vulnerability as “resulting when internal fragility is not balance by personal resources” (Prince-Embury, 2011, pg. 677).
Assessment of RSCA
Due to the RSCA being formulated for children and adolescents, the administration process is relatively simple. Tests are usually performed in clinical settings, school settings or therapeutic group settings. The manual along with twenty-five combination scales booklets cost $119, but the manual alone is $75. Results can then be used to assess preventive screening, treatment options and counseling. The ages of participants range from 9 to 18. All parents of children under the age of 18 are asked to sign a disclaimer. In addition, children are given $10 (Prince-Embury, 2010, pg. 294). There is no training necessary for administering this assessment. However, the administrator must have built a relationship with the individual and have a clinical knowledge in psychological testing. Depending on the reading level and mental status of each individual taking this assessment, each section can take up to 15 minutes to complete. Once the assessment is finished, each scales answers are totaled up to produce an MAS-T, REL-T and ER-T score based on each scales’ subscales. Each T-score is then compared with the Resource Index, which is an average of the MAS-T and REL-T scores. This produces a Resource Index T-score, which is then used to calculate the Vulnerability Index T-score. Once the difference between the Resource Index and Emotional Relativity scale is found, the participants Vulnerability Index is compared to the standardized Vulnerability Index. The resulting number is the Vulnerability Index T-score. Overall resilience is then calculated by processing the T-scores from the Resource and Vulnerability Indexes (Prince-Embury, 2007).
Although there are several screening tools available for assessing resilience, few are thought to be psychometrically sound. For an assessment tool to be sound, it must demonstrate consistent validity and reliability. More importantly, “screening tools require sufficient internal and test-retest reliability for different age groups and in different populations in order to be sensitive to change in pre-post testing for different groups” (Doll, Pfohl, & Yoon, 2010, p. 147). If an assessment tool lacks internal consistency, then it is likely that the test has poor test-retest reliability, as well. A lack of consistency can mean that the characteristics being measured are not defined properly. It is important that assessment tools be consistent across sample, so that effectiveness can be measured over time. In regards to the RSCA, there is quite a substantial amount of research that suggest the RSCA has excellent reliability and validity.
Validity and Reliability of RSCA
As previously stated, the Resource and Vulnerability Indexes are meant to assess a child’s personal strengths and level of vulnerability. These two factors are considered the key components in a resilient child. Since the test is standardized, there is a certain expectation of how the factors should the populations assessed. According to “Cichetti & Tucker (1994), coefficient alphas that are at or above .70 are adequate, at or above .80 are good, and at or above .90 are excellent” (Prince-Embury, 2010, pg.299). Tests with alphas at this level are considered to be reliable for longitudinal study. With that being said, the RSCA index scores, subscales and scales have been shown to have excellent internal consistency across age and gender groups, which increases with age (Prince-Embury, 2007, 2010, 2011; Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013). Scores are normed by gender and age. Ages are broken into three age brackets: 9-11, 12-14, and 15-18. According to Prince-Embury (2010), “Sense of Mastery Scale alpha coefficients were .85, .89, and .90; Sense of Relatedness Scale alpha coefficients were .89,.91, and .90; Emotional Reactivity Scale alpha coefficients were .95, .95, and .94” (pg. 295). Across the 10 subscales alpha coefficients were good to excellent (ranging from .71 to .92), with the exception of the optimism, adaptability and tolerance subscales in the 9-11 age bracket (Prince-Embury, 2010, pg. 295). Since this test shows good internal consistency, it can be assumed that this scale has good test-retest reliability, as well. If a group is to be followed over time to assess treatment effectiveness, it is important that the test be reliable. If a test has high test-retest, it can be assumed that changes in scores are associated with changes in the groups and not just a chance. In addition, the RSCA has been shown to have cross-cultural reliability in international studies on resilience (Saklofske & Nordstokke, 2011; Van Wyk, 2011; Tignor & Prince-Embury, 2013; Cui, Teng, & Oei, 2010; Jordani, 2008; Ayyash-Abdo & Sanchez-Ruiz, 2011).
As complicated as it is to define resilience, so is establishing validity of the RSCA. This is attributed to the varying ways that the theory of resilience has been approached. The RSCA is designed with the assumption that resiliency is multidimensional. Validity for the RSCA can be assessed by looking at the three protective factors, as well as risk factors. In a study by Luthar (2006), 157 adolescents’ RSCA Index and global scale scores were correlated with their overall attachment scores with their parents. Findings from this study suggested an overall positive correlation between protective factors (Sense of Relatedness and Sense of Mastery) with parental attachment scores (Prince-Embury & Saklofske, 2013, pg.25). In another study by Prince-Embury (2010), the RSCA Resource Index was found to be exceptionally reliable for tracking children between the ages of 9-14 over time (pg. 299). What’s more, the RSCA index and global scale scores were found to be excellent for monitoring individual progress for adolescents with or without a clinical diagnosis (Prince-Embury, 2010, pg.299). Additionally, the RSCA has shown good correlation to scores on other assessments of self-concept (Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale, Second Edition), negative affect (Beck Youth Depression Inventories – Second Edition), behavior (Conners Adolescent Symptom Scale: Short Form), and experiences of bullying and victimization (Reynolds Bully Victimization Scale, suggesting convergent and construct validity (pg.63).
Overall, the RSCA has been shown to be a sound and resourceful tool for assessing the overall resilience in children and adolescents. However, establishing reliability and validity are an ongoing feat for any assessment tool. It can be assumed that further longitudinal study will further clarify the reliability and validity of the RSCA. With that being said, Sense of Mastery, Sense of Relatedness and Emotional Reactivity have been found to be consistent factors in assessing personal resiliency. The three developmental systems in The RSCA are vital attributes that are “prominent in developmental theory and resiliency research” (Prince-Embury, 2010, pg.292). The RSCA was designed to reflect a normative US representative sample. Samples were “systematically stratified by race/ethnicity and parent education level allowing T scores to be determined based on a representative normative sample that is represented in the US Census (Prince-Embury, 2013, pg. 42). Additionally, Prince-Embury (2009) found that the RSCA can be used across groups of different races without bias (pg. 179). However, it may be inferred that this could be a limitation to future research findings. The US demographic is not unwavering. Therefore, it could benefit future research to focus more on minorities, as the RSCA may not be able to assess racial differences. At present, the RSCA index and scale scores are a sound predictive tool for the assessment of personal strength and resilience.
Use of RSCA in Vocational Assessment
From a Rehabilitation background, the RSCA appears to be a potentially excellent tool for Vocational assessment. The three global scales assess specific areas that determine a person’s ability to overcome adversity. For a person who has just acquired a disability, these scales can give insight into how a person may adapt to their new disability, for example, an adolescent who suffered loss of an extremity due to a car accident. If the adolescent remains optimistic, has a strong support group, or is able to keep their emotions calm, they can be considered resilient. Therefore, it can be assumed that their disability will not hold them back. Conversely, if an adolescent experiences a sense of loss of control, has little support group or falls into a depressive state, it can be determined that certain interventions and preventative techniques must be introduced. Equally, these scales would benefit predictive outcomes for those born with a disability. Since it is written at a third grade reading level and is a self-report assessment, it can be assumed it would be beneficial for a multitude of disabilities both physical and mental.

Ayyash-Abdo, H., & Sanchez-Ruiz, M. J. (Unpublished manuscript). Resilience, hope, and personality among Lebanese adolescents.
Cui, L., Teng, X., Li, X., & Oei, T. P. S. (2010). The factor structure and psychometric properties of the Resiliency Scale in Chinese undergraduates. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 26 (3), 162–171.
Doll, B., Pfohl, W., & Yoon, J. (2010). Handbook of youth prevention science. (pp. 1-
496). New York: Routledge.
Prince-Embury, S., & Saklofske, D. H. (2013). Resilience in children, adolescents, and adults: translating research into practice, the springer series on human exceptionality. (pp. 1-356). New York: Springer Science Business Media. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-4939-3_1
Prince-Embury, S. (2007). Resiliency Scales for Children and Adolescents: Profiles of personal strengths. San Antonio, TX: Harcourt Assessments, Inc.
Prince-Embury, S. (2009). The Resiliency Scales for Children and Adolescents as related to parent education level and race/ethnicity. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 24, 167 – 182.
Prince-Embury, S. (2010). Psychometric properties of the resiliency scales for children and adolescents and use for youth with psychiatric disorders. Journal of
Psychoeducational Assessment, 28(4), 291-302. doi: 10.1177/0734282910366832 Prince-Embury, S. (2011). Assessing personal resiliency in the context of school settings:using the resiliency scales for children and adolescents. Psychology in the Schools, 48(7), 672-685. doi: 10.1002/pits.20581
Saklofske, D. H., & Nordstokke, D. (2011). The relationship of the RSCA with personality and Motivation measures in Canadian young adult samples. Society for Personality Assessment, March, Boston. T. Tignor, B., & Prince-Embury, S. (2013). Resilience in Kenyan youth living in the slums and suburbs of Nairobi: An explanatory and descriptive study. In S. Prince-Embury & D.H. Saklofske (Eds.), Resilience in Children, Adolescents, and Adults: Translating Research into Practice (pp. 257–278). New York, Springer.
Vanderbilt-Adriance, E., & Shaw, D. S. (2008). Conceptualizing and re-evaluating resilience across levels of risk, time, and domains of competence. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 11(1-2), 30-58. doi: 10.1007/s10567-008-0031-2
Van Wyk, H. (2011). The relationship between vulnerability factors and life satisfaction in adolescents: A cross cultural study . Unpublished thesis, University of the Free State, South Africa.

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